You can find my in-depth, 64 page Disney Aulani review, with pictures, in the Amazon Kindle store. For the short version, read on.
My family visited Disney’s Aulani resort in Kapolei, Oahu, in June of 2014 and again in June of 2017. The first time we spent 8 days at Aulani and the second time we spent 7 days. Both visits were great and gave us the opportunity to explore the island while still having the chance to get away from all the tourist areas.
If you are thinking about vacationing at Aulani, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration:
1. Aulani is located in Kapolei, which is on the leeward (non-tropical) side of the island. It’s about a 45 minute drive from the airport in traffic.
2. Aulani is not located near any of the tourist areas so unless you plan to stay at the resort for most of your stay, you will need to rent a car.
3. Speaking of renting a car, plan to pay around $30 per night to park said car at the resort (unless you are a Disney Vacation Club Member, in which case parking is free).
4. If you plan to embark on sight-seeing in Waikiki, plan for heavy traffic, at pretty much any time of day.
5. What we found new during our 2017 stay was that our local shopping options had greatly improved. If you are planning an extended stay at Aulani, be sure to plan an early trip to the Costco or Super Target to stock up on essentials. You don’t want to have to buy every meal at the resort, especially if you are with kids.
6. If you take a short walk from Aulani, off the beaten path, you can see sea turtles! Take your camera but be careful not to disturb them or any eggs or nests. It’s against the law to do so and they are serious about it!
7. If you like staying in an area where you can easily walk to shops, restaurants and night life, this is NOT the resort for you. Conversely, if you don’t mind driving (30-45 minutes) to the tourist area and enjoy a self-contained resort where you can get away from it all, this IS the place for you. Once you are there, you really don’t have to leave for anything.
In 2014, I wrote an extensive Aulani review and have updated since our 2017 visit. While preparing for my trip, I scoured the internet looking for information about the places we would stay and the things we would do. I found information on discussion boards, review sites and a few blogs and tried to piece together the information so that I could make an informed decision about our plans.
During my stay in Oahu, I realized that people really needed a comprehensive guide to the attractions. Forget the question and answer format of a discussion board where you have to search through hundreds of conversations to get the information you need. Or the 500 word blog review post that barely even scratches the surface.
When you’re spending thousands of dollars planning a once in a life time vacation, you want to get it right. You want to know what you’re getting into.
If you are interested in learning the details of a stay at Aulani, you can find my extended review here. The table of contents is below.
Who Went on the Trip
Things to Do
The Daily Ewa
Paddle Boarding and Kayaking
Pools and Beach
Menehune Scavenger Hunt
Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
Signing up for Complementary Experiences
Basic Drop Off
Eating in the Villa
Off The Hook/Pool Bar
Quick Service Places
Final Thoughts About Aulani
Do You Need a Rental Car
Staying after Checkout
Traveling Without Kids